Take a Walk in the Park to Clear the Mind

We’ve all heard that a walk around the block can help clear the mind and lower stress, but several studies show that a walk in the park actually does a lot more for you than a stroll through an urban area.

In a study at the University of Michigan, researchers performed two experiments to test how interactions with both nature and urban environments affect certain mental processes.

First, a group of volunteers completed a task designed to challenge memory and attention. Then they took a walk in either a park or in downtown Ann Arbor. After the walk, volunteers returned to the lab and were retested on the task.

Not surprisingly, performance on the memory and attention task greatly improved following the walk in the park, but did not improve for volunteers who walked around downtown.

In the second experiment, volunteers who simply viewed nature photos after completing the task did much better on the retest than volunteers who looked at photographs of urban environments.

Another study conducted at the University of Illinois even shows that children with ADHD demonstrate greater attention after a 20-minute walk in a park than after a similar walk in a downtown area or residential neighborhood. Researchers are now looking more deeply into the way “green” time can reduce ADHD symptoms.

While ideally, we would all be able to take a stroll amidst the greenery, even hanging pictures of flowers, trees and other calming nature scenes around your office or home can be beneficial. Either way, it’s good to get a little fresh air and move around every few hours.

Taking a mental health break is always important!

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